Friday, May 29, 2009

The Bowen Island Eco-Shed

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to stay at the Eco-Shed on Bowen Island. The Eco-Shed was created by author James Glave with sustainability in mind. James Glave chronicles his journey toward building the Eco-Shed in his book Almost Green. The book discusses his challenges, skepticism and learnings of the project

Some of the sustainability features the shed boasts include a passive solar design, ventilation system for outside air, better-than-code insulation, electrically-fired hot water on demand, reclaimed or certified lumber, rainwater harvesting and a dual-flush toilet.

Overall the eco-shed provides a fantastic place to unwind and learn about one person's journey towards building sustainably.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Munem Wasif - Photographs of Climate Refugees

Bangladeshi born photographer, Munem Wasif, has created a set of photographs that give insights into the harships faced by the people of Satkhira. The rise in salinity has been caused by a shift from traditional agriculture to commercial shrimp farming. The latter can generate a lot of money for a fortunate few, but for most, its consequences are disastrous. Once-fertile land turns to brackish water and local people lose access to drinking water and their livelihoods.

The image above captures the daily routine of Shajhan Shiraj and his brothers as they drag their boats across the mud in a three hour journey to collect fresh water. Similar journeys are becoming more frequent across the region as accessible drinking water becomes increasingly hard to obtain.

In A tale of lost paradise: Climate refugees, Wasif has put together a series of photographs which aim to tell stories of people who have lost their livelihood and way of living due to climate change. In the last 10 years, farmers have had to disassemble and move their tin-and-bamboo houses five times to escape the encroaching waters of the huge Brahmaputra River in Kurigram. This river is swollen out of all proportion by severe monsoon that scientists attribute to global warming and melting ice in the Himalayas. Bangladesh, with a population of 140 million people all crammed into an area slightly smaller than the state of Illinois, is a target of the most vulnerable to climate change.

Ref: New Scientist

Monday, May 4, 2009

Melting glaciers around the world

The Guardian online recently posted a gallery of glaciers around the world. As temperatures rise due to climate change, glaciers are retreating at unprecedented rates. Some ice caps, glaciers, sea ice and even an ice shelf have disappeared altogether in this century and many more are retreating so rapidly that they may vanish within a matter of decades.

National Geographic also has their own gallery, Climate Change: Pictures of a Warming World.

By looking at historic photos, it becomes very clear that the glaciers are melting very quickly. The Guardian gallery shows enormous differences in just the past year as seen in their pictures of the French Alps near Chamonix.

However, this is by no means new information, in 2006 NPR released a story of Alaska's melting glaciers, providing a comparison of pictures taken 70 years ago to the glaciers in 2006.

The pictures are not only stunning, but also outline how climate change is having a real impact on our planet.